Who Pays for the Unexpected in Construction? Report of the Committee on Contract Administration of the Construction Division, ASCE

Committee on Contract Administration of the Construction Division, ASCE

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1963, Vol. 89, Issue 2, Pg. 23-58

Document Type: Journal Paper


A contractual clause has been suggested covering unexpected subsurface conditions (i.e. unknown or latent physical conditions of an unusual nature at a construction site, differing from those indicated in the contract and from those generally recognized as inherent in work of the same character). Certain delays in construction are unavoidable. However, one faction emphasizes the engineer's responsibility to minimize the unexpected through preconstruction site study, preparation of a comprehensive set of bidding and contract documents, and the purchase of insurance. Another faction states that the owner should pay for any work that is outside the scope and intent of the specific contract. However, the contractual language must clearly specify exactly what is unexpected by providing (1) a changed condition clause, (2) different payments if the quantities over-run or under-run a specific unit figure, or (3) a disputed work clause. In questionable cases, the owner should furnish complete subsoil investigations and should be prepared to pay for extra costs where data provided prove inadequate or faulty. Low bidding is risky in the area of foundation construction. Difficult foundation problems should be referred to experienced consultants. Inaccurate specifications and agreements must be ultimately settled by the courts through a decision determined by codes of practical construction.

Subject Headings: Foundation construction | Contracts | Construction sites | Bids | Owners | Subsurface environment | Professional societies | Insurance

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